EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday night’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens will take on game calls less than a calendar year after the Browns were fired against his former team.
“I think Freddie’s experience in this league calling games and coordinating a crime fits in with what we’re doing now,” said coach Joe Judge, who also noted that the Giants have allowed the assistants to play all year round Calling in practice to prepare for exactly this situation.
The Giants canceled training on Thursday “out of caution”. You will work with the league’s chief medical officer to determine next steps. There didn’t seem to be any close contacts until Thursday morning.
The Giants coaches and players did not meet in person on Monday or Tuesday. According to the guidelines of the league, they worked remotely. The Giants trained in person on Wednesday, but close interaction was limited to 10- or 30-second clips. There was nothing that allowed another coach or player to isolate themselves.
Zoom meetings were held on Thursday that Garrett attended just as he would have been if they had been in the building. But he won’t be with the team on Friday when it’s back on the field for a so-called “hybrid day,” which includes traditional activities on Thursday and Friday.
The judge said the Giants had been careful to ensure everyone kept their distance this season. They converted their spacious field house into meeting rooms. They wear masks and shields during the run while also making sure that the players are constantly on the move and do not congregate in one area during practice.
“The only thing we have been continually told throughout the league process is that it’s about keeping your distance and avoiding the crowds,” said Judge. “We focused on it all year round.”
Garrett was hired last off-season to lead the Giants’ offensive after nine seasons as the Dallas Cowboys head coach. But it was a fight, especially without Saquon Barkley running back. Only the New York Jets have scored fewer points this season than the Giants, who are one game away from first place in the NFC East in week 15.
The Giants (5-8) aren’t sure whether starting quarterback Daniel Jones is healthy enough to start against the Browns either. The judge said Wednesday that it was too early to make that decision. After Jones missed a day of training and assessing his ankle and hamstring, Judge didn’t expect a final call to his quarterback until after the lengthy run on Saturday.
Jones was allowed to go to the Giants facility for treatment on Thursday. The judge liked what he saw in practice on Wednesday but needs to see more.
“I was encouraged by how he moved [Wednesday] in practice. How he threw the ball, how it was in the pocket. That was very encouraging, “he said.” That being said, we need to see him at a faster pace. [Friday] really will be the day to evaluate that out there. There are two injuries. It’s a slightly different situation than last week. He’s making progress. “
Kitchens who have experience calling plays will partner with either Jones or Colt McCoy, another former Brown. He’s mostly spent this season running the narrow ends of the Giants, but Judge noted earlier this week that he’s “been a tremendous help throughout the season in the way he is planning games and scouting of reports helps “.
Garrett, 54, will continue to work remotely.
Kitchens’ success with the Browns at the end of the 2018 season earned him a promotion to head coach last year. Cleveland finished 13th in Baker Mayfield’s rookie season. He threw 19 of his rookie-record 27 touchdown passes in his last eight games under Kitchens when the Browns went 5-3.
But Cleveland fired Kitchens after a rocky 2019 season that saw Mayfield go back and throw 21 interceptions.
The judge worked hard to bring kitchens to his staff. The two have connections from their time together in Mississippi and Alabama, and Judge considers the former head coach a trusted confidante. He doesn’t expect an entirely new offense when kitchens call plays.
“Our offense is our offense. We’ll see how it adjusts based on the schedule,” Judge said. “We’ll see how it adjusts based on the rest of this week and how the training goes.”
Sunday has now become the ultimate throat game by Freddie Kitchens. The Browns (9-4) are having a strong first year under new coach Kevin Stefanski, which Kitchens has noticed from afar.
“I couldn’t be happier for the Cleveland fans,” he said earlier this week. “They waited a long time for something like this to go to the games and cheer them on. But there are no two teams that are the same. We say that every year.”